Archive for March, 2012

An Ode to an Entrepreneur


When I was a boy I was the cute little guy that other kids picked on. My big brother is seven years older and he was never around to watch after me. Bullying came naturally to the other kids in the neighborhood and I was a victim. I never liked grammar school or high school because of all the bullying, but I enjoyed college because I liked to think and the bullies were gone.

Later in my career I became reacquainted with bullying. Some of the places I worked did not care about what I thought, but simply wanted me to become a robot. This experience drove me to entrepreneurship because I wanted to think on my own instead of having the frontal lobotomy. I like to achieve, but I am not satisfied when someone else receives the praises for my accomplishments. I like to lead and entrepreneurship sets me free.

I love to learn and hate the boredom of repetition. I prefer to explore instead of relying on rote memory. I want to make conditions better rather than relying on the tried-and-true. Nothing is perfect as perfection is a vision not a static condition, and moving toward perfection means failing several times to find a better solution. I learn from the school of hard knocks.

I see a path to educate entrepreneurs that does not break them to get what they need. I want to remove the bureaucracy at the top and start in the trenches. Those who offer the most benefit to entrepreneurs are not the administrators, but the educators. Entrepreneurs by nature are uncomfortable with bureaucracy and need educators to jump into the trenches with them.

What I want is to improve conditions for others entrepreneurs and help them succeed. Entrepreneurship has not earned the attention it deserves and the time has come to understand its value to economic growth and job creation. I want to collaborate with others to realize my dream. Small business and entrepreneurship will rise again and hopefully will set you free!

Learn more about my vision!

Advertisements

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

4 Comments

Small Business Entrepreneurship: The Place to Develop Tomorrow’s Leaders


Yesterday I was reading a blog post that said something to the effect the days of true leadership are gone. I was thinking I don’t believe that for a moment. We live in trying times, but there’s no reason we can’t have that good leadership. Although we see politicians taking one side or the other and polarizing people, I see no reason good leadership can’t prevail elsewhere.

I think the place leaders can make a big difference today is in entrepreneurship. I feel this way because I see a void left by big companies whose goal it is only to win. So what can I do about this state of affairs? I can brush it off like many people do or I can help entrepreneurs develop leadership skills so the next generation cares about the world around them and for the people who live in it. So why can’t these people become leaders to make the world a better place?

I get the feeling sometimes when people take a job their companies say, “leave your brains at the door. Here, we are going to do it our way.” I say here is where the politics begin. Working towards a mission takes a strong character to not get involved in politics and instead do what’s best for society and customers. This is the opportunity for leaders to show their stuff.

I would like nothing more than see the next generation of companies personify true leadership that cares. I want to bring these days of win-lose two an end. Entrepreneurship is the perfect place for leaders to develop as they grow their companies and build on new ideas. Entrepreneurs are much closer to the people and society because they have to be. Someday these companies will be the big companies of tomorrow, and I hope they will be better prepared to lead then what we have today.

My goal is to build leadership skills, while helping small business entrepreneurs develop business skills to grow their businesses. I want to turn things upside down and work from the bottom up so entrepreneurs don’t get the same skills they have today. I see a better way! Learn more.

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

Small Business Entrepreneurship: Go Where the Money’s At or Not–Yet!


We have all had some programming to follow the long-standing idea of going where the money is at, but the time has come to reexamine this notion. Innovation to meet changing market needs will destroy many mature industries and companies. In the recent global economic downturn we have already seen striking evidence the time has come to replace some existing large companies and industries. For example, companies producing energy from fossil fuels can only last so long as eventually these energy sources will not supply enough energy to meet growing demand and the needs of a burgeoning population. Prices are out of control and will soon, if not already, price many consumers out of the market. Should companies invest more in these energy sources or look for innovations to create energy?

Joseph Schumpeter (1975) coined the term “creative destruction” to describe this idea and explain economic cycles in which economic growth flourishes and then subsides. The down cycle happens because of the lack of innovations, stable demand for existing products, burgeoning costs of bureaucracy, rising income inequality, and tactics used by big mature companies wanting to exert their influence on the political process. “Creative destruction” moves economies from free markets to more socialistic economies, but Schumpeter looks at this phase of the cycle as a way to restore free market conditions conducive to entrepreneurship and contributing to economic growth.

In a socialist economic setting, spending on needed infrastructure stimulates economic conditions and supplies capital to entrepreneurs to restore creativity and induce the innovation process. Large oligopolistic companies fear this phase of “creative destruction” because it often results in their downfall and replacement by new companies innovating ways to serve emerging consumer needs (Foster, 2010; Norton, 1992).

Large oligopolistic companies ignore the emerging needs of consumers and focus on existing needs. Entrepreneurs see these companies not meeting many consumer needs and see the opportunity to innovate to meet these needs. For example, as income inequality grows widespread poverty results. This part of the population has unmet needs. Some examples include the need for affordable housing, education, and healthcare. Although these are existing industries, the key to solving these problems comes from the emerging knowledge industry (Foster, 2010).

Small business entrepreneurs should embrace business networking to gain intelligence and collaborate to find new solutions for emerging needs. Should entrepreneurs go where the money is at? I suggest not and now is the time to go where the money is not–yet. Learn more.

What emerging needs do you see and how can you contribute to making conditions better for entrepreneurship? I am interested in hearing your ideas.

References

Foster, J. (2010). Productivity, creative destruction and innovation policy: Some implications from the Australian experience. [Article]. Innovation: Management, Policy & Practice, 12(3), 355-368. doi: 10.5172/impp.12.3.355

Norton, E. (1992). Evidence of creative destruction in the U.S. economy. Small Business Economics, 4(2), 113-123. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=bth&AN=16845164&site=ehost-live

Schumpeter, J. A. (Ed.). (1975). Creative destruction from capitalism, socialism and democracy. New York: Harper.

 

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

Small Business Entrepreneurs: Leaders or Managers


I see some of the events going on in the business world today that make me wonder where the leadership is. I believe many so-called “leaders” in big companies are nothing more than managers. What training do they have in leadership or did they just reach their position by using excellent managerial skills? What do these people feel for their employees and for society?

A good example is in the political setting today. I wonder what planet some of these people came from. Some of them use the term leader so loosely it makes me sick to listen to them. I hear too much “my way or the highway” in the political world polarizing the electorate so politicians get nothing productive done. I ask, “How is this leadership?” Leaders collaborate and work well in teams. Do we even have a team working to solve problems in government anymore? Everything I see is a stalemate of polarized views. A leader is not a divider, but a person who unifies an organization to achieve a common goal.

A leader has a vision and uses it to attract followers. A manager simply commands attention by using management tactics to take advantage of others for self-motivated reasons. Often business plans sit on a shelf collecting dust. A leader works his or her plan, but stays nimble in its execution. A leader has a connection with followers by listening and using emotion to win followers over. A manager simply commands people the only way to do something is his or her way.

Managers are many times smart people and know precise skills, but a leader knows how to connect with others and change the way they think. A leader is flexible and wants to know what others think. A manager has a superiority complex because the skills he or she has makes him or her feel superior to others. A leader finds value in finding the right people to learn from instead of relying on his or her own skills.

I see more opportunities for people wanting to become small business entrepreneurs to use leadership. Right now the world needs more leadership and I encourage people with a good idea to exercise their entrepreneurial spirit. A person must have leadership skills to become a successful entrepreneur as a good manager will just not cut it. Casualties are too high for new start-ups so people with an idea and leadership skill have a calling waiting for them as a small business entrepreneur.

Do you have what it takes to start a business? Start by considering your leadership skills. Learn more.

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

Start Your Business or Quit Right Now


I remember when I started my first business how frustrated I became when everyone wanted to reject my business plan. Everyone wanted to say, “Your plan is not good enough, “You can’t do that,” “Your numbers don’t add up,” or some other lame reason to reject me. I don’t even remember them all. The average person might just say, “I’ve had enough,” I tried,” “I give up,” or “Maybe everyone else is right.” I thought who are these people who do not know the first thing about my business to make these disparaging remarks. Do these people even care?

After finally getting the loan I needed to start my business, these comments didn’t even make a difference to me. I was free and I could put my focus on my passion. Now is the time to prove the naysayers wrong!

Unlike some I am not a quitter. Think about it! Would you rather work with someone who is persistent, diligent, determined, vigilant, and deliberate or would you prefer to work with someone who quits? Do you want someone who helps take a project to reach its final conclusion or someone who simply walks away without giving it the effort it deserves?

I know what I prefer, and it’s not quitting. I know I have it in my DNA to never to give up. I yearn to achieve what I set out to achieve and do not let little setbacks stand in my way.  I am energized by learning more about my business so I can serve my customers better. For me the fun is in getting to my goal, not settling into a comfortable position. If you want a comfortable position get a job. What I do is not a job; it’s an eternal fire I need to put out.

If you don’t have the fire, I suggest quitting now.  Do you want to learn more?

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

Small Business Global Supply Chains


Small businesses are reluctant to cooperate and collaborate in global supply chains because of not understanding the benefits and problems with them. Just the fear of  unknown risk can paralyze a small business owner from taking action.  Lack of trust and understanding supply chain partners’ standards can also result in anxiety. Yet, the future of small business in part depends on understanding the benefits of working together in global supply chains. So what are the benefits of global supply chain partnerships?

Jüttner & Maklan (2011) explained a relation exists between supply chain risk management and supply chain resilience.  Juttner and Maklan found supply chains with flexibility, visibility, velocity, and collaboration can contain supply chain risks. Flexibility allows members greater choices for finding materials and needed services. Flexibility also improves bargaining power with suppliers. Visibility helps prevent non-availability issues and improves the ability to meet revenue and cost targets. Velocity gives supply chain partners the speed they need to exploit emerging opportunities. Collaboration allows supply chain partners to share capital and use complementary skills to prevent breakdowns. In short, supply chain management makes supply chain partners more resilient to risk.

Another benefit from working in global supply chains comes from improving corporate social responsibility. Spence and Bourlakis (2009) showed corporate social responsibility improves from collaborating in supply chains. Business dealings need open and honest relations in which supply chain partners can trust one another. Preserving good corporate social responsibility affects the entire supply chain and needs an open and honest partnership.

Does it make sense for your company to engage in social networks to find global supply chain partnerships? What concerns do you have about finding good global supply chain partners?  Want to learn more. Please tell us if you like our blog.

References

Jüttner, U., & Maklan, S. (2011). Supply chain resilience in the global financial crisis: An empirical study. Supply Chain Management: An International Journal, 16(4), 246-259. doi: 10.1108/13598541111139062

 Spence, L., & Bourlakis, M. (2009). The evolution from corporate social responsibility to supply chain responsibility: The case of Waitrose. Supply Chain Management: An International Journal, 14(4), 291-302. doi: 10.1108/13598540910970126

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

A Tale from the Past: What it Takes to Start a Successful Business


I read a blog a few days ago that said you do not need experience to be a successful entrepreneur. So what do you need? Do you need a degree from an Ivy League school or a large pot of money from a notable investor?

Let me tell you a story from my personal experience. I once worked for a man who came from humble beginnings. Sam was the man. Sam’s family had a hard time putting food on the table coming over from the old country. Sam had a brother that did not fit in anywhere so the Sam felt a duty to take care of him. Sam did not make it through high school because he was pressed for his family’s survival.

So what did Sam do? Sam went into the screw business. Now your first thought might be, “who did Sam try to screw?” If so, you have the wrong idea! Sam’s business had to do with making screws in the fastener industry. Sam started in a small garage at home and at first started with selling products, but Sam often told me his success came not from selling, but from buying. Before starting his company Sam worked as a buyer for another company.

As Sam’s business grew, he started manufacturing screws and with a few of his friends formed a partnership and eventually a corporation. Sam had an absolute passion for the business and made it his business to learn every facet of the business. Over the years Sam and his partners grew the business in to an extremely successful business in the industry. The company grew out of the garage to a large manufacturing facility with thousands of high-profile customers.

Sam led the company from obscurity to a thriving business and Sam mastered every person’s position in the entire company. I kid you not! Sam was faster than a marathon runner and would see how every employee performed in their job. Sam followed this routine the entire day, each and every day. Sam showed his passion for the business and did not think of it as work.

I did not mention I came to Sam’s company late after his partners had left or retired. My role at the company was vice president of finance. By this time, the company was already a public company. By the way, Sam could do my job even though he did not have a high school diploma. Sam made it a point to know everyone’s job inside and out. Sam drilled me at lunch each and every day to keep me on track. Sam would let me know when I eventually mastered my job.

Sam started thinking about retirement and sold the company to a Harvard MBA. By the way the Harvard MBA’s name was Ned and he was a marathon runner. Ned bought the company with money inherited from his wealthy father. Every company that Ned bought he started to bring in his own people to manage the company and do everything by the book. One-by-one each company Ned took over started to lose money and eventually failed. Ned was a turnaround expert in the wrong direction.

Sam saw the handwriting on the wall and decided it was time to get out and semi-retire, but Sam loved the business too much and went back out on his own. During our final time together, Sam told me to look for another job because Ned wanted to bring in his own people after he left. I learned more from this job than any job I ever had thanks to Sam.

So why did Sam succeed? Sam did not graduate from high school, but admired others like myself who had a good education. Sam did not have a large pot of money to start. Yet, Sam grew out of his garage to a manufacturing facility and eventually became a public company. What do you think it takes to build a successful company? Did Sam have experience, and, if so, what role did it play in his success? Did Ned have experience in the companies he took over?

Do you have some ideas about why Sam could build a successful company? Do you want to know more about what I think it takes to start a successful business. Learn more.

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2 Comments

Small Business Network Collaboration: A Matter of Survival


Small businesses have enough trouble getting started without having to worry about international competition. Legitimate concerns exist about international markets and anyone founding a new business should consider these concerns. For example, much concern exists around the world about corporate social responsibility and the need for more transparency.

Consumers see a lack of corporate social responsibility and transparency. Small businesses can play a major role in filling this void. Weltzien-Hoivik and Shankar (2011) proposed using a network model for small businesses to promote social responsibility in clusters. Weltzien-Hoivik and Shankar suggested small businesses can have a major influence on multinational companies by collaborative efforts working in a cluster with other small businesses.

Similarly, small business founders need more market intelligence to improve their ability to innovate. Mercan and Tünen (2011) highlighted the importance of innovation and argued working alone is no longer an choice because of the cost. Through collaboration, cooperation, coordination, and sharing knowledge, networks can create a setting aiding small businesses survival.

Another issue is how small business can harvest such intelligence. Ceccagnoli, Forman, Huang, and Wu (2012) showed how enterprise software benefits small businesses in a collaborative setting by harvesting and sharing information and lowering the cost of a system not otherwise available to small businesses.

These are just some of the benefits of small business networking. Small firms need flexibility to foster innovation and cooperation, and collaboration improves this ability. Increased collaboration expands the market for participants in a network. A small business can hold down costs and share risks in a collaborative network. Small firms can share knowledge from technology not available to them on their own. Members of a small business network build trust and mutual confidence (Mercan & Tünen, 2011).

Small business networks help foster the health and welfare of society. Members of small business networks build relations and are accountable to a wider range of stakeholders (Weltzien-Høivik & Shankar, 2011).    Learn more.

Do you view small business networks as a matter of survival? What other benefits can you think of benefiting members of small business networks? What is important to your business?

References

Ceccagnoli, M., Forman, C., Huang, P., & Wu, D. J. (2012). Cocreation of value in a platform ecosystem: The case of enterprise software. MIS Quarterly, 36(1), 263-290. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=bth&AN=71145739&site=ehost-live

 Mercan, B., & Tünen, T. (2011). Innovative Networks for SME’s: Case of Konya Automotive Supply Industry. European Journal of Economics, Finance & Administrative Sciences, (32), 80-94. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=bth&AN=67737726&site=ehost-live

Weltzien-Høivik, H., & Shankar, D. (2011). How can SMEs in a cluster respond to global demands for corporate responsibility? [Article]. Journal of Business Ethics, 101(2), 175-195. doi: 10.1007/s10551-010-0708-6

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

The Power of Global Small Business Networks


In recent years multinational companies have crowded out competition by small business by exerting their influence through size and money. Globally, small businesses serve many roles the multinational companies fail to serve. For example, entrepreneurs are closer to the consumer and must listen to peoples’ needs.

Multinational firms use supply-side economics and simply raise prices as the need for improved profits arises. These firms believe they control the market because of the lack of competition. Without competition no equilibrium exists to bring prices into line with supply and demand.

Small businesses can compete and satisfy consumers’ needs by exerting the power of global small business networks. Small business have an opportunity in the global marketplace to fill the gaps left by multinationals who look out for their own interests. Small businesses have the nimbleness to respond to what consumers want and need and do not need to wait for multinational companies.

Ide (2009) showed that small businesses account for 99.7% of businesses in the United States and 50.7% of employees in 2004. Similarly, in the same year small businesses in Japan accounted for 99.7% of businesses and 74.2% of employees. In 2003 Ide showed both Germany and the United Kingdom accounted for 99.6% of businesses. The United Kingdom and Germany reported small business yielded 59.2% and 64.8% of employment in those countries, respectively.

Global small businesses by this analysis should have more power to promote their interests. Global supply chains and social networks can improve conditions for small business entrepreneurs by joining forces (Weltzien Hoivik, & Shankar, 2011).

Wu, Park, Chinta, and Cunningham (2010) explained how the practice of “co-optition” works in China by forming supply-chain clusters and collaborate to create new products and fill gaps left in the market by multinational companies. BarNir and Smith (2002) defined interfirm alliances as independent companies cooperating to perform business activities.

Taking this idea a step further and settling common needs for all small businesses engaged in international trade can amass great power for small business. Anyone involved in small business should consider collaborating and developing common interests with other small business not only through interfirm alliances, but through small business social networks.

Learn more.

References

BarNir, A., & Smith, K. A. (2002). Interfirm alliances in the small business: The role of social networks. Journal of Small Business Management, 40(3), 219-232.

Ide, T. (2009). How to rectify unfair trade practices and to establish appropriate supply chains and better business culture under the global market economy. Pacific Economic Review, 14(5), 612-621. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-0106.2009.00475.x

Weltzien Høivik, H., & Shankar, D. (2011). How can SMEs in a cluster respond to global demands for corporate responsibility? Journal of Business Ethics, 101(2), 175-195. doi: 10.1007/s10551-010-0708-6

Wu, L., Park, D., Chinta, R., & Cunningham, M. (2010). Global entrepreneurship and supply chain management: A Chinese exemplar. Journal of Chinese Entrepreneurship, 2(1), 36-52. doi: 10.1108/17561391011019014

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment